By Benjamin Flowers: Prime Minister John Briceño said this week that the Religious Affairs portfolio recently granted to Minister Henry Charles Usher is a broad spectrum ministry that will seek to dialogue with all religions, not just those that are Christian-based.
Briceño said that he personally believes in equality, and acknowledges all other forms of religious beliefs, despite his party’s strong support of the Church-State system. He added that the government only decided to establish the portfolio on a point of efficiency.
“We felt that because of all of these lots of churches…we have a lot of small churches and then the traditional churches, we felt that the best way to be able to deal with them is to be able to have one ministry that can deal with them, as opposed to having them running all over the place. They don’t know if they should go to Human Development or the Prime Minister, or to Ministry of Education, so we felt that it’s best if we can put it under one ministry,” Briceño told Channel 7.
Since the appointment, several LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have raised serious concerns about what function the Religious Affairs ministry will take, and what sort of policies will stem from the minister’s statements to advance Christian values within the public service.
Usher has since responded by asking all groups to give the Ministry time and approach the process with an open mind. He has committed to engaging all groups in dialogue as the Ministry charts a way forward for Belize